OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The state of Florida has long been considered to be a battleground state for elections.
But in recent years, the state has not only gotten more conservative, but it also appears that Republicans are growing stronger in the Sunshine State.
A new op-ed in the Tallahassee Democrat encourages liberals to “play the long game” and that the state is continuing to shift more towards Republicans.
“Democrats are at a distinct disadvantage in Florida. Republicans have been in control of the executive and legislative branches since 1998. They have redrawn district lines to their favor. The number of registered Republicans is now greater than the number of registered Democrats and the Cuban-American population is trending even more Republican,” Cliff Staten wrote in the op-ed.
“Gov. DeSantis is extremely popular among Republicans. There is fear among many Florida Democrats that the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Governors Association, and national donors will simply write off Florida as a red state. The question that must be addressed is what, if anything, can the Democrats do in Florida?” the report added.
“The recent push by the Democrats supported by the Florida Alliance to register more voters in democratic areas of the state is important. Turn out by Democrats will be the deciding factor. Given the recent voter law changes and the fact that midterm elections traditionally have lower voter turnout this will depend upon a strong local party organization. This is a major weakness for the Democrats,” he wrote.
That’s not the only issue Democrats are facing.
Several Democrats are sounding the alarm about how “bleak” Florida is looking for them.
“It feels a little bit like we’re kind of set up to fail,” an unnamed Florida Democratic official told The Hill. “It’s not any one person’s fault. A lot of these problems have existed for years. But for a party that has been decimated in the last few elections and especially the last one, I’m not seeing a sense of urgency yet.”
The report details how in 2008, registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 700,000 voters.
Today, Republicans only trail registered Democrats by around 23,000.
Steve Schale, a longtime Florida Democratic strategist, is telling Democrats that they could be in huge trouble going forward.
“Without a full-frontal, professional and accountable partisan effort to turn it around, sometime before the end of this year, there will be more Republicans registered in Florida than Democrats,” Schale wrote on his blog.
“That has NEVER happened before. And, given their voters have higher turnout scores — this isn’t a great place to start,” he added.
Republicans are also aware of their massive gains, and they do not plan to slow down.
“In a state like Florida, when you consider that you get 1,000 new residents a day, you really can’t stop. You have to keep going and you have to keep engaging,” said Helen Aguirre Ferré, Republican Party of Florida’s executive director.
Another party leader was even blunter.
“We are going to flip Florida and we’re going to make Florida red permanently,” said Florida GOP State Chair Sen. Joe Gruters.
Democrats in Florida are a minority and that minority is liable to grow once the GOP-controlled legislature begins its redistricting process later this year, leaving them further behind and making it even more difficult for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to keep her iron grip on the lower chamber.
Democrats fear that Republicans will use the state’s massive population growth as a means of eliminating some of their congressional seats.
That enormous growth, however, makes it much more likely that Republicans, who control 16 of the state legislature’s 27 seats, are going to be looking hard and fast at paring that down during redistricting in a way that will help lock in a GOP majority for years to come.